LIFELONG Owls fan Matthew Wright is leading soldiers on the front line fight against insurgents in Afghanistan.
The 26-year-old - a veteran of tours to conflicts abroad, including Iraq - is in Helmand Province as a Lance Corporal with 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.
L Cpl Wright, of Hillsborough, takes teams of five soldiers on operations against the insurgents while carrying over 80lbs of body armour and equipment in the heat.
He said: “As an infantryman I love being in the thick of it all. My best patrol was when we pushed into an insurgent hotbed to engage with the local people there. They were pleasantly surprised to see us and welcomed us into their compounds. The insurgents were particularly annoyed that day, as it was a real ‘hearts and minds’ victory for us and the Afghan police.”
L Cpl Wright is living in a basic checkpoint with 13 soldiers. The team head out on daily patrols with the Afghan police to provide security for local people.
They closely mentor the Afghan Uniformed Police, part of the Afghan National Security Forces.
It all seems a long way from cheering on the team at S6 but Matthew is to return home soon during a rest and recuperation break when his tour finishes in April.
The former Myers Grove School pupil said: “I love the job, and love being an infantryman, because I enjoy meeting all sorts of people from different backgrounds.
“I strongly agree that working alongside Afghan police we can repel the insurgents and win over the local Afghans. The Taliban are never far away and we are trying to ensure the locals have peace and security.
“I’d like to say a big hello to my wife Emma in Sheffield - I miss you loads and I can’t wait to come back and see you on rest and recuperation.”
n A Sheffield soldier who joined the Army to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps has been deployed to Afghanistan for the first time.
Private Zak Wilson, 19, will search for roadside bombs at the head of a patrol in the critical role of the ‘Vallon man’ - holding a hand-held metal detector - with 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.
The former Newfield School pupil, of Norton Lees, said: “I joined the Army because I wanted to follow my grandfather, who was in the artillery during the Second World War.
“I want a challenge, so I joined the infantry and I haven’t been disappointed so far.”